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Chancellor accused of failing first-time buyers with £600m recovery package - RJA Properties: Lettings Agent Manchester
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20 May 2010

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Home information packs (Hips) will be consigned to history, the Government has announced.
17 Mar 2010

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Estate agents should be subject to the same levels of regulation as letting agents, it has been been stated.
22 Jan 2010

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Thousands of Britons with holiday and retirement homes in northern Cyprus face eviction after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision that a British couple must surrender disputed land.

Chancellor accused of failing first-time buyers with £600m recovery package


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The Chancellor was accused of “using a water pistol to put out a fire” after announcing measures intended to reinvigorate the housing market and the building sector.

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Housing organisations, lenders and estate agents said that Alistair Darling’s £600 million package, which included an extension until the end of this year of the stamp duty tax holiday on properties worth less than £175,000, did not go far enough to help those excluded from homeownership.

Among Mr Darling’s other proposals was a £400 million injection for housebuilders to allow them to restart work on stalled developments. Builders have deserted construction sites in recent months as their source of funding – bank loans – has dried up. The Government said that it would plug the gap by effectively buying shares in construction companies for a return on its investment at a later date, taking a public stake in the fortunes of the housing market.

The cash boost is part of £1 billion announced this week to improve the supply of housing. The Government’s own figures, however, state that the funding announced yesterday will provide only 10,000 new homes; a tiny fraction of its 240,000-a-year target.

The Chancellor announced a meagre £100 million to allow councils to build 900 homes on town hall land for social rent, along with a further £80 million in funding towards a government-backed shared equity scheme to assist first-time buyers who did not have big deposits, and an extra £50 million to help to refurbish accommodation for the Armed Forces.

Housing groups condemned yesterday the Goverment’s failure to provide funds for a significant social housebuilding programme. They had pressed for at least £6 billion to build 100,000 low-cost homes in the next two years to help to address soaring waiting lists for council houses. More than 4.5 million people are on waiting lists for council homes, a figure expected to rise to five million by the end of this year as more homes are repossessed.

The National Housing Federation said that the Chancellor had made a step in the right direction but had not gone nearly far enough. David Orr, chief executive, said: “We now fear that because the Government has failed to back a comprehensive housebuilding programme, the number of homes delivered this financial year will slump to an 88-year low of 70,000 - while the number on social housing waiting lists will simply soar to unparalleled levels.”

Moves to boost the private housing market were also met with derision. Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “The housing market is the engine of the UK economy and it is likely that this Budget will be remembered as largely ineffectual. There is little here for first-time buyers, who need encouragement to climb on to the property ladder, which will get everything moving. Mr Darling has used a water pistol to try to put out a fire.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said that the stamp duty holiday could harm the bottom end of the housing market when the tax is reintroduced at the start of next year. Lenders said that the move would benefit disproportionately homebuyers outside London and the South East, where the majority of homes cost more than £175,000.

Fionnuala Earley, chief economist at Nationwide, said: “The level of the threshold will still predominantly benefit those in the North. House buyers purchasing property above £175,000 will still be faced with the full burden of stamp duty.”

The extra £80 million towards the HomeBuy Direct shared equity scheme will help only 3,500 first-time buyers in total, according to estimates by Jon Neale, of Knight Frank, the estate agent. He said: “When you consider that even in this market 10,000 first-time buyers managed to buy in February, you realise just how small this amount really is.”

About 45,500 buyers – 60 per cent of all home sales – have benefited from the stamp duty reprieve since last September. Government revenue from stamp duty fell from £14 billion in 2007-08 to £8.2 billion in 2008-09.

Times Online

 
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